Drought: A challenge for agriculture and an opportunity for innovation

Drought has become a major global concern, and Spain and Europe are no exception. The data is alarming. Spain is grappling with a severe water crisis as reservoir levels stand at a mere 40% of their capacity, marking a substantial decline compared to a decade ago. The hydrological year of 2022-2023 accentuates the gravity of the situation, being the driest since 1961, with a staggering 25% less accumulated rainfall than the historical average. Projections for the near future are ominous, with estimations suggesting that the looming drought may impact over 70% of the Spanish territory in the coming months.

Drought is also severely impacting the agricultural sector, which relies on water for food production. Farmers and fruit and vegetable companies are in a critical situation as they face a series of changing challenges largely caused by climate change.

One challenge is that the availability of water for irrigation is considerably reduced, limiting production and jeopardizing crop quality. This means that less food can be produced, and what is produced may be of lower quality, a devastating consequence even for the global population.

Moreover, water is an increasingly expensive resource, increasing production costs and reducing the sector’s profitability. Rising water prices make it difficult for farmers to make a profit, which can jeopardize the viability of their businesses and, consequently, the supply of stores and supermarkets.

In short, drought is having a devastating impact on agriculture, jeopardizing food security and the future of the sector. Urgent measures are needed to solve this problem, including innovative solutions for the rational use of water, investment in water infrastructure and raising public awareness of the importance of this vital resource.

Innovation, a key tool

In this context, innovation becomes a fundamental tool for finding sustainable solutions.

Greenhouses are a viable alternative for optimizing water use and protecting crops from adverse weather conditions. Durable, high-tech greenhouses offer several advantages:

  • Climate control: They allow the regulation of temperature, humidity and ventilation, creating an ideal microclimate for plant growth.
  • Efficient irrigation: They implement technified irrigation systems, such as drip irrigation, which allow precise and efficient use of water.
  • Water reuse: Water collection and reuse systems can be installed for rainwater drainage and irrigation.
  • Hydroponics: The use of hydroponic systems to grow crops in greenhouses allows farmers to collect irrigation water and reuse it, increasing the level of savings. In this sense, it is important to use a good substrate adapted to the farmer’s needs, especially a substrate that favors the drainage of excess irrigation and does not accumulate humidity, where roots grow healthy and strong.

However, not all farmers can afford the initial investment in a greenhouse, even a basic one. That is why there are other solutions that are more affordable in terms of investment, such as greenhouse-inspired gothic tunnels.

The Berryfesta model: A basic, sustainable and cost-effective solution

The Berryfesta model is an innovative gothic macro tunnel system designed by J. Huete Greenhouses that offers a specific solution for water saving in the cultivation of strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes and other crops, in addition to intensive production throughout the year:

  • It has gutters between the bays that allow rainwater to be collected, which can then be reused for irrigation. This strategy maximizes a natural resource that is often wasted.
  • It also incorporates hydroponic growing systems that allow for the recirculation and reuse of irrigation water. Instead of discarding excess irrigation water, it is reused to water the plants again. In this way, water consumption is considerably reduced, sometimes by as much as 80%.

The combination of these two innovative features in a gothic tunnel such as the one formed by the Berryfesta model allows for highly efficient use of water in the cultivation of strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes and other crops.

These innovations are not just theoretical. Invernaderos J. Huete has been implementing equipment for years with the aim of making its customers more sustainable, not only to help conserve the environment, but also to promote savings in both energy and water consumption.

Since 1995, the Spanish company has designed and built intensive production greenhouses in more than forty countries (on five continents), adapted to the needs of each location, climate or crop. In all of them, the efficiency in the consumption of water, energy and phytosanitary products, among other values, stands out, helping its clients to be more sustainable with the environment and avoiding excessive consumption.

Drought is a challenge for agriculture, but also an opportunity for innovation. Sustainable, high-tech greenhouses and gothic tunnel installations such as Berryfesta are viable solutions that allow farmers to optimize water use, increase profitability and ensure the production of fresh, quality food.

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